Jonathan Rea tops day one as WorldSBK Round Four gets underway at Assen
Friday’s action at the Acerbis Dutch Round saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) set a marker for his rivals with a 1’35.383 lap to top the FP2 timesheet as he rode consistently fast around the TT Circuit Assen. He was joined by Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) in the top three on the combined Friday timesheet, with Davies trailing the World Champion by +0.112s and Sykes being +0.149s behind his teammate.
Rea has an excellent record at the Dutch venue having won nine WorldSBK races there and having taken double victories in the last two visits to the Netherlands. His Friday pace suggests he will be as strong as ever on Saturday and Sunday after his excellent start to 2017 so far.
“I am really satisfied with today as we managed to set up the bike a little bit in the morning and confirm some suspension items we have been testing recently, in Motorland Aragon and Portimao. Once we confirmed those, in the afternoon we decided to make a long run with some of the new Pirelli tyre options that they brought for both the front and the rear. I rolled out of that simulation after half distance and came into the pits. We tried another set of tyres and went back to the morning settings, which had different final gear ratios and were a little bit softer in the suspension. I felt a little bit more comfortable then. I made a pretty much a full race simulation at a pace I feel quite satisfied with. After gaining that knowledge I know exactly the critical areas to improve to be strong at the end of the races. As far as Fridays go, today’s has been a positive one.”
Behind the top three in FP2 were Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) and Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), who both made the top five. Savadori improved significantly from FP1 having had technical problems which hampered him in the morning outing.
Behind sixth placed Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was Savadori’s teammate Eugene Laverty in seventh, as the Milwaukee Aprilia team appeared to take a step forward on Friday afternoon.
The top ten was completed by Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) just missed out on an automatic SP2 spot in 11th, with Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) in 12th having experience a technical issue with his Ducati.
Van der Mark could not improve his time in FP2 having made a good start to his home round in fourth in FP1. Meanwhile, it was not a great day for Lowes as the Englishman first crashed in FP1 and then had a high-speed crash on the Yamaha YZF R1 in FP2. He ended up ninth overall, having been outside the top ten in the morning session.
Bradl also crashed in FP1 and concluded the day down in 13th, with his Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team behind him in 14th, meaning both will ride in Tissot Superpole 1 on Saturday morning.
There was also an FP2 crash for Leandro Mercado (IODARacing), leaving the Argentine rider down in 18th on the timesheet.
Earlier in the day Sykes set the FP1 pace with a 1’35.676 lap, placing him ahead of his teammate Rea and Welshman Davies in the top three on the morning timesheet.
WorldSBK 2017 – Round Four – Assen – Friday Combined Practice Times
- Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team 1.35.383
- Chaz Davies Aruba.it Racing – Ducati +0.112
- Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team +0.149
WorldSSP: Sofuoglu shows strength to lead on day one
After his difficult start to 2017 a determined Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) stated his intentions on Friday at Assen by topping the free practice timesheets on the first day of the Acerbis Dutch Round. The Turkish rider’s 1’38.950 in FP2 put him at the head of the combined timesheet, in front of PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team).
Sofuoglu missed the first two rounds of the season due to injury and then finished out of the points on his return at Aragon last time out, so he will be pleased to be on the right track at Assen. Just behind Sofuoglu (+0.172s) was American rider Jacobsen whose best Friday time came in FP1, as he was one of the only riders not to improve in the afternoon session.
Following third placed Caricasulo was standings leader Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and in fifth place was Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) – who won the race at Assen last year.
Meanwhile, Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven), Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) and Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI) were all in the top ten, despite a crash at turn 15 for Canducci in FP2. Those aforementioned top ten riders all go straight into SP2 on Saturday.
Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) crashed at turn 7, whilst Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) had laps cancelled in both Friday sessions for exceeding the track limits and crashed at turn 8 in FP1.
Earlier in the day in FP1 Jacobsen the way with a 1’39.122 best effort, with Sofuoglu just behind him (+0.013s) in second and Mahias in third (+0.743s). The session ended in a red flag due to oil on track after a crash involving Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Stefan Hill (Profile Racing) and Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing).
Anthony West was the highest ranked Australian on day one in 21st position while countrymen Aiden Wagner and Lachlan Epis were 27th and 28th respectively.
WorldSBK 2017 – Round Four – Assen – Friday Supersport Combined Practice Times
- Kenan Sofuoglu Kawasaki Pucetti Racing 1.38.950
- PJ Jacobsen MV Agusta Reparto Corse +0.172
- Federico Caricasulo GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team +0.399
Tamburini topped Superstock 1000 practice on Friday ahead of Rinaldi and De Boer.
Mike Jones ended the opening day in ninth place while countryman Glenn Scott was 30th on the Agro On-Benjan Kawasaki ZX-10R.